Lost Souls by Noah Chinn

Toby Frost

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(First up, a disclaimer. I’ve met Noah Chinn twice: ten years ago, he wrote a review of Space Captain Smith for the magazine Knights of the Dinner Table, and is on the Space Captain Smith Facebook group. I’ve read a couple of his books before, and he suggested that I should have a look at his most recent novel, Lost Souls. I bought a copy myself, and here are my honest thoughts.)


Lost Souls is a science fiction novel by Noah Chinn, available on Amazon. It’s an adventure with space pirates, alien races, shootouts and decidedly “soft” science: the best description I can think of is “Good honest space opera”. Given that this is a self-published book, it’s probably worth saying that the writing is good, the book is well-produced and the cover art is really nice. It’s a good product and definitely of professional quality.

The story revolves around former hero and dubious interplanetary rogue Maurice “Moss” Foote, and Hel, a wily indentured worker whose bad luck has left her not far from being a runaway slave. The two cross paths when Hel sneaks onto Moss’ new (well, reconditioned) spaceship, and soon Hel’s mysterious past sends them on a wild adventure.

If this all sounds a bit familiar, it is, but that’s no bad thing. The author mentions his love of the old computer game Elite in the acknowledgements, which makes a lot of sense. Lost Souls reminds me most of all of Firefly, with its rickety spaceships, disreputable crews and sense of high adventure. The dialogue in particular is very Joss Whedon: I could have done with a little less banter and fewer pop culture references, but that’s a personal choice. The action is good and the alien races, whilst humanoid, make sense in the setting. It's a fun, light, slightly retro, slightly tongue-in-cheek read.

Overall, Lost Souls doesn’t really break huge amounts of new ground, but I don’t think it’s trying to. It is an entertaining adventure novel and something of a homage to old buccaneering space adventure. It sets itself up for sequels, but is very much a self-contained story. If that sounds like your sort of thing, then you could certainly do a lot worse than this.


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I mean, sometimes it's not about reinventing the genre, but trying out new things in a familiar sandbox. Plenty of people love The Orville despite the fact it's pretty much Star Trek TNG with the labels changed and more humor. Many of the recent Star Wars TV shows have shown the variety of storytelling that's possible within an established universe.
With Lost Souls and the books that follow, I am creating a unique universe, sure, but I wanted it to feel familiar enough that you can quickly get involved with what really matters: the characters.
 

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